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Pastor's Corner: A daily dose of Proverbs is a good idea

“If you faint in the day of adversity,

Your strength is small.” Proverbs 24:10

Don’t you just cringe when you read some of Solomon’s pithy yet profound nuggets of truth in the Wisdom book of Proverbs? Yet, this is exactly why it is so important for believers to read a bit of Proverbs every day. … They are written for the purpose of giving one wisdom and instructions for the everyday ups and downs of life.

In light of Solomon’s “prickly” truth for today, allow me to ask a question: What do you do when the prospects of success turn into the dust of discouragement? Or when the moonlight and roses suddenly morph into “diapers and dishes?” Or perhaps the robust and healthy life you have always experienced takes a turn in the other direction and you find yourself facing a time of pills, pain and powerlessness?

The first reaction for most is to ask, “Why me Lord?” However, would not the more pertinent question be, “Why not me, Lord?” If the believer’s life was always on the uptick, and one always got a big scoop of ice cream on his or her pie then the whole world would be lining up to join the “club.” But the truth of the matter is it is when our neighbors, friends, co-workers and enemies see us walk through the dredges of life with a good attitude and a peace that passes all understanding that they see the true Christ of Scriptures.

Viktor Frankl, a 20th century Austrian psychologist, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, gives a wonderful insight into the matter when he wrote; “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances…” He also wrote, “When we are no longer able to change the situation – we are challenged to change ourselves…”

Good advice but how do we achieve this lofty goal? Glad you asked. I believe the answer is in a little formula the Great Apostle Paul gives us in Philippians 3. First and foremost, Paul’s life was not one of constant success nor of “peaches and cream” at every turn, was it? As a matter of fact, when he gives this formula he is in a Roman jail awaiting execution. Yet he pens a very important and succinct map on how to view every situation of life with faith and peace.

Philippians 3:13,14 reads, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Here is Paul’s formula in facing adverse circumstances:

1. Forget the past (you cannot change it).

2. Focus on the future (therein lies the power).

3. Forge ahead in the present (do what you can when you can with all the gusto you can).

Now, the decision is ours…do we want to wallow in the past’s muck and mire or by the power of Christ that dwells in you, press on knowing that the word promises “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Phi. 4:13.

Jim Neal is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.


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